Griboyedov's House

Nikolay Galkin/TASS
Bulgakov writes, "It was an old two-storied house, painted cream, that stood on the ring boulevard behind a ragged garden, fenced off from the pavement by wrought-iron railings… The house was called 'Griboyedov House' because it might once have belonged to an aunt of the famous playwright Alexander Sergeyevich Griboyedov. Nobody really knows for sure whether she ever owned it or not. People even say that Griboyedov never had an aunt who owned any such property... Still, that was its name."

The book's Griboyedov House is actually Herzen's House, or, rather, the house of his uncle, senator Yakovlev. The future Russian publicist was born here on April 6, 1812, and spent the first five months of his life in the house as well as visited it later in life. Today the House of Herzen at Tverskoy Bulvar (Tverskoy Boulevard), 25, is home to the Gorky Literary Institute. Another Master, Andrey Platonov, spent 20 years of his life in the little annex of the Literary Institute, in the writers' residence hall. To feed his family, the writer was forced to work as a yard-keeper. Platonov described his neighbours (other writers) thusly, "Literary men of genius possessed with dignity run around the courtyard."

In Bulgakov's book, the building houses the literary union MASSOLIT and its famous restaurant which doorman would not let Koroviev and Behemoth to enter for lack of proper identification. The fictitious name of the writer's union either means "Mass-scale literature" or the "Masterskaya (workshop) of the Union of Literati" and is a parody of the actual creative union's name MASTCOMDRAM – Masterskaya (workshop) of Communist Drama.

Researchers have long tried to determine who was the prototype for the character of Berlioz who persecuted the Master, paying special attention to various Soviet literati who opposed Bulgakov. The main candidates for this role are the poet Demyan Bedny and critic Leopold Averbakh.